Chicago was blessed with success in 2011 for many reasons. Obvious among them was the fact they had the league’s eventual MVP winner leading their squad, but he had connections.
Oh yes, you see Derrick Rose got a lot of help from the Mob. The Bench Mob to be exact.
Formed from the ashes of other teams trash, the Bulls built an elite secondary unit that proved to be second to none during the season. Big names like Kyle Korver and Taj Gibson led the way with guys like C.J Watson, Ronnie Brewer and Omer Asik following behind. A lot of this is to the credit of GM Gar Forman and his incredible foresight into what these guys could do together and more importantly the depth they would bring to Chicago.
With the exception of Taj Gibson, all of the key members of the Bench Mob were new additions to the Bulls. Chicago took flak for not landing one of the big three free agents this offseason, but they didn’t go silent.
The Bulls added C.J Watson from Golden State, Kurt Thomas from Milwaukee , both Kyle Korver and Ronnie Brewer from Utah and used Omer Asik from Turkey as a first year player.
The group was unknown at the start of the year but quickly grew in popularity amongst Chicago fans. They provided a depth for Chicago that added perhaps the most dangerous element to their arsenal. When one of the starters came out, a guy who almost equaled his will and drive entered the game.
It’s hard to pin exclusive success on just one guy, they all had their parts to play. Watson came in for Rose even starting for him one game in November. Brewer came in for Bogans regularly and Korver was deadly from the arch. But if you had to narrow it down to one guy, you’d still have to go with three guys: Kurt Thomas, Taj Gibson and Omer Asik.
Those three guys played a pivotal and rather large role in the Bulls 2011 season when center Joakim Noah went down with a hand injury that kept him out of 30 straight games.
The Bulls cycled through these three guys who all contributed big and immensely lessened the blow of losing Noah to the point where they actually made him look bad his first game back.
Both Asik and Gibson were the most used even after Noah came back. They would consistently be subbed in for Noah and each other until the season’s end. They both also achieved career highs in categories as well as cementing their place on the Bulls roster for a long time.
Asik seemed more impressive out of the two being that he was a first year guy. Gibson experienced similar success and fame in his first year out of USC during the 2009-10 season. But Asik’s success can be attributed to his hard work in the Turkish league these past few years where he was matched up with NBA caliber talent. Plus, his ferocity was one that was infectious and intense. As popular as Noah’s war cries after a big play are, Asik’s hanging on the rim dunks became popcorn for Bulls fans very quickly.
Welcome to OMERica.
Asik and Destroy.
The catchphrases were as fun to come up with as watching him play.
Gibson also made an even greater mark, improving on his own impressive rookie campaign from the year prior. He was also featured a bit more than Asik was and the Bulls benefited from this greatly.
The two big men left such a mark that at the trade deadline, the Bulls were being asked what it would take to get one or both of them. Gar Forman’s price tag was non-existent. He stood by his big men immediately disregarding any trade deal that involved them. This proved to be the best move the Bulls could have made because to have given up one of them would have been a mistake.
The Bench Mob hit the peak of its popularity near the end of the season. T-Shirts were being produced and they had become a slogan of success in Chicago. They were as instrumental to the success of the Bulls as any other aspect of the team. The Bench Mob;s emergence as a proud power in Chicago is Moment #7 of the best Bulls moments of 2011.
Monday: Check your rear-view, Moment #6 just might sneak up on you